Life sciences general

This Life Sciences General page highlights the best publicly available information on companies, industries and markets for the major segments of the life sciences (LS) industry. It includes the areas of pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, and medical devices.

This resource contains the following sections:

I. Life Sciences Industry: Latest Overviews

II. Regulatory Environment

III. Clinical Trials and Pipelines

IV. Market Pull: Sizing Up the Problem

V. Competitive Intelligence

VI. Financing Innovation in LS: Partnerships, M&A and Deals

VII. Staying Up to Date: Industry News Sources

The Healthcare general page of the Startup Library recommends the best of publicly available information on the overall healthcare ecosystem―including healthcare spending and hospital and doctor statistics.

The Healthcare IT page of the Startup Library covers statistics related to hospitals and care facilities, and technologies related to electronic records, telemedicine and other software products for healthcare professionals.

The Consumer digital health page of the Startup Library for links to resources on health trends and statistics that pertain to disease, injury and other health indicators for patients.

I. Life Sciences Industry: Latest Overviews

The resources below provide the latest on the LS landscape in Canada, the US and around the world. These reports deliver useful overviews of key sectors within the LS industry (such as pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies and medical devices), covering areas such as size, structure, leading companies and products, investment activities and emerging issues.


Industry Canada: Life Science Industries: Industry Canada provides profiles on the following sectors of the LS industry. These overviews include national aggregate estimates and provincial highlights related to R&D, Canadian drug sales, international trade, health expenditures on drugs, and more.

City of Toronto: Toronto’s Life Sciences Sector: On this page, the City of Toronto highlights the LS industry in Toronto and confirms this region’s position as the centre of Canada’s life sciences sector.

United States

Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Jobs, Investments and Innovation (2014) (PDF): This publication examines state-by-state bioscience industry trends, including the average annual wages for various types of workers in the biosciences, and the number of business establishments.


Deloitte Life Sciences: Deloitte’s Life Sciences industry group recently published 2017 Global Life Sciences Outlook: Thriving in Today’s Uncertain Market (PDF).  This report examines the current state of the global life sciences industry. It describes the top issues facing stakeholders, it provides a snapshot of activity in a number of geographic markets, and it suggests considerations for companies as they seek to grow revenue and market share in 2017 and beyond.

Ernst & Young: Life Sciences: This team at Ernst & Young covers biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical technology. Recent editions of its annual reports include:

Global CEO Survey – Pharmaceuticals & life sciences: PwC conducts a global annual CEO survey. The 2016 edition is available online: 19th Annual Global CEO Survey: Redefining Business Success in a Changing World  (PDF).

2016 Global Funding Forecast (R&D Magazine): R&D Magazine recently published the 2016 Global Funding Forecast. This report covers government, academic and industry funding for R&D in the life sciences, as well as for other advanced technology sectors.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service: The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service publishes market reports that survey a number of industries by country. Within the Life Sciences sector, recent market profiles are available for the China, India and Singapore. The U.S. Commercial Service is a comparable source for market research.

II. Regulatory Environment

The following resources offer overviews of the regulatory environment in Canada and the US, and around the world.


Health Canada: Health Canada is the federal regulator responsible for licensing medical devices in accordance with the Food and Drugs Act, the Food and Drug Regulations, and the Medical Devices Regulations. This agency provides an overview of the regulatory process related to therapeutic products.

Health Canada also maintains the Medical Devices Active License Listing (MDALL), a database of all licensed class II, III and IV medical devices offered for sale in Canada.

Additional legislation and regulatory guidelines relevant to the LS industry are accessible through Health Canada’s siteDrugs and Health Products: Legislation and Guidelines.

United States

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Guidance, compliance and regulatory information is available from the FDA.

The FDA also maintains an online resource called the Orange Book: Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations. Users can search prescription, OTC and discontinued products by active ingredient and see if there is any information on patents or exclusivity for the product.

Deloitte – Life Sciences Regulatory Outlook 2017: This publication outlines the anticipated regulatory changes and issues facing the following industries and sectors in 2017: life sciences and healthcare, banking, securities, insurance, investment management, energy and resources.


Biosimilars Portal (Gowlings): Created and managed by the law firm Gowlings, this portal provides a useful summary of how different countries address subsequent entry biologics (SEB) (synonymous with biosimilars). An introduction to guidance documents, regulations and industry positions related to SEBs are available for Canada, the US, the EU, Korea and Singapore.

III. Clinical Trials and Pipelines

The following sources primarily indicate databases and search tools for clinical trial studies―those that are now complete and those that are actively recruiting participants. Such resources can help LS companies track technologies of interest that are progressing through the development and commercialization pipeline.


Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)’s Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN): The resource lists HIV clinical trials that are currently enrolling patients, as well as ongoing HIV studies.

Clinical Trials Ontario (CTO): CTO is a not-for-profit organization established by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation with a mandate to streamline the process for multi-centre clinical trials in Ontario. Key resources available from their site include the following:

Ontario Cancer Trials: Developed in partnership with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), this site provides a directory of clinical trials actively recruiting patients for studies related to cancer. A nation-wide version is also available to search across Canada.
For more information on life science R&D facilities, please visit our Startup Library page, Research and development (R&D) in Ontario overview II. Research labs and prototyping facilities.

United States

The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center offers a tool to browse clinical trials for adult cancers that are currently enrolling new patients. Each listing explains the purpose of the trial, the trial’s eligibility criteria and how to get more information. A separate tool is available for pediatric studies.

International This database run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health stores information (registry and results) of human clinical studies worldwide.

World Health Organization (WHO): WHO maintains The Clinical Trials Search Portal. This resource provides a single point of access and the unambiguous identification of trials with a view to enhancing access to information by patients, families, patient groups and others. Users are required to register to use this resource. 

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA): PhRMA represents the main pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the US. While its content targets a consumer audience, its reports nicely summarize the pipelines of new therapeutics that are being developed.

PhRMA’s report series, Medicines in Development, presents pipelines organized by areas such as disease (e.g., Alzheimer’s Disease [2016]) (PDF).
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IV. Market Pull: Sizing Up the Problem

Successful LS startups are able to clearly articulate how their innovation solves an important problem in human or animal health and in the provision of health services. Defining market pull requires evidence from the medical literature on the limitations of current standard of care protocols, cost estimates for medical treatments and population estimates for a particular disease. Medical literature will also cover preclinical work identifying useful targets as well as clinical trial results from new or competing therapeutic compounds.

Searching for Bio-Medical Literature

Trip: This database is a clinical-research search engine which enables users to quickly identify high-quality research evidence to support their practice. Trip also provides other types of content such as images, videos, patient information leaflets, educational courses and news.

PubMed: PubMed is an online database developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in the US. The database provides citations, and often abstracts, of biomedical journals reporting research from topics in molecular biology (preclinical research) to various aspects of medicine, nursing, dentistry and the healthcare system.

When available, free full text articles are linked from the citation records in PubMed. Otherwise, options for accessing the full text include medical libraries at hospitals and universities, or direct purchase from the publisher.

To identify studies on the cost of healthcare or other impacts of certain diseases, the following terms may be useful to include in your search:

Terms relating to cost:

    • Cost-benefit analysis
    • Cost of illness
    • Healthcare costs
    • Health expenditures

Terms relating to incidence:

    • Demography
    • Epidemiology
    • Morbidity
    • Prevalence

In addition, any major topic or therapeutic indication can be combined with a number of subheadings to narrow down your search. For example:

    • Adverse effects
    • Economics
    • Epidemiology
    • Mortality
    • Statistics and numerical data
    • Supply and distribution
    • Utilization

Narrow down your results even further by specifying the type of publication. For example, selecting the “review” option will yield articles that survey the associated existing research and offer an easily readable summary. Limit your results in terms of “text availability” to see which citations provide a link to free full text―just click on “free full text available.”

V. Competitive Intelligence

Understanding the leading industry players will deepen your insights into the overall LS marketplace. In addition to the industry reports listed at the top of this Startup Library page, you can identify major stakeholders through company rankings in specialized industry publications such as those listed below.

Identifying Leading LS Companies

Drug Trend Report: Drug Trend Report is produced by Express Scripts, a US company that handles home delivery of prescriptions. It is an interactive online trend report that caters to the needs of employers, health maintenance organizations, health insurers, union-sponsored benefit plans, third-party administrators and government health programs. Issued quarterly, the publication features latest research developments, updates on key trends such as spending by therapy class, and spending covered by private insurance vs. Medicare vs. Medicaid.

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN): This industry news source provides company and product rankings:

QuintilesIMSQuintilesIMS is a major commercial provider of pharmaceutical and biomedical product information. While much of its content is targeted for large pharmaceutical companies and available by subscription, QuintilesIMS freely publishes its Top-Line Market Data each year. These reports highlight top 20 global sales by product type, therapeutic class and corporation.

Medical Marketing & Media (MM&M): This US monthly business publication produces an annual Pharma Report. This report profiles the top 20 drug manufacturers in the U.S. market, as measured by:

  • Sales data
  • Top brands
  • Prescription drugs and therapeutic class
  • R&D spending
  • Patent expirations
  • Total promotional spending (e.g., journal ads, professional meetings)

The latest report, 2016 Pharma Report: All the Data in One Place (2016) is freely available online.

Deeper Dive on Companies: Public Filings

Once you identify relevant and leading industry players of interest, determine which of them are publicly listed or traded companies. These companies are required to make their annual reports (also referred to as the 10-K in the US) publicly available. You can find these reports under the “investor relations” section on the company’s corporate website, or you can conduct a “site:” search in Google, adding the keyword “annual report”. Another alternative is to look up the reports for Canadian companies in the SEDAR database or US companies in the EDGAR database.

The Management Discussion & Analysis (MD&A) section of annual reports should include a breakdown of sales numbers and whether the growth or decline from previous years is due to pricing, unit volume or other factors.

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VI. Financing Innovation in LS: Partnerships, M&A and Deals

Public-private partnerships are at the forefront of financing early-stage LS startups. The resources below highlight funding and partnership opportunities for researchers and entrepreneurs in Ontario, Canada and beyond.

Translational Medicine & Commercialization

MaRS Excellence in Clinical Innovation and Technology Evaluation (EXCITE): MaRS EXCITE helps companies increase the likelihood of success for their breakthrough technology-based health innovations by streamlining processes related to regulatory approvals, adoption and uptake. Sign up for EXCITE’s newsletter to be notified of open calls for proposals.

Stem Cell Network: Stem Cell Network runs competitions open to Canadian investigators who are eligible for CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC grants. Current and past funding opportunities include stem cell drug discovery programs, commercialization grants and implementation project support.

Genome Canada: Genome Canada details its funding initiatives.

Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI): OGI publishes a list of its funding programs, as well as other current funding opportunities in the LS.

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR): OICR lists its funding opportunities, both current and past.

Developing World Health Partnerships Directory: This directory documents more than 200 public-private partnerships. Each work to improve health in developing countries and are supported by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) member associations and companies and their many partners.

Venture Capital, Private Equity, M&As

The following resources not only help you track the latest financing rounds in the LS industry, but offer insight into deal flow patterns. They will help you identify potential investors and competitors.

The Life Sciences Report: This branch of the Streetwise Reports caters to the LS investment community. Its content is sourced from interviews with leading industry experts and analysts and includes company information, summaries from recent research and key industry news.

EP Vantage: EP Vantage presents financial analyses of regulatory and patent decisions, marketing approvals, licensing deals and M&A. The site is powered by EvaluatePharma, a commercial research and data provider for the pharmaceutical industry that also publishes occasional papers on timely topics. The reports are free, but registration and login are required.

Silicon Valley Bank: Research & Insights―Life ScienceSilicon Valley Bank publishes reports on the LS industry, as well as an annual Startup Outlook report, which surveys private early-stage US companies across sectors. Its publications include:

CB Insights: This commercial venture capital data provider offers some useful free content by way of their blog and newsletter, which tracks the latest financings, M&A, IPOs, and changes to boards of directors. It groups its information by industry segments. CB Insights also provides access to occasional reports that summarize recent funding activities in a particular sector, e.g., medical devices (2016). The newsletter is free, but registration is required.

PitchBook: PitchBook is another commercial data provider of venture capital and private equity financings, covering a broad range of industries. It also offers a free daily newsletter that headlines top stories, announced deals, completed deals, exit and liquidity news, and management moves. It publishes PitchBook Reports, a quarterly analysis of VC deal flow, investment trends, exit activity and fundraising. The service is free, but registration is required for both the newsletter and the reports.

Some VC firms invest in companies across industries, while others prefer to specialize in areas such as the LS. The following firms are a selection of those with a specific interest in LS companies with high-growth potential:

VII. Staying Up to Date: Industry News Sources

The following resources will help keep you up to date on the latest in LS industry developments.
Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO): BIO holds “the” LS industry tradeshow. It represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centres and related organizations across the US and 30 other nations. BIO’s annual international convention is the key industry event and tradeshow to present partnering opportunities.
Leading LS industry organizations in Canada include the following:

The following industry publications offer free to freemium subscriptions, and cover the latest in LS research and new product releases. They also often offer summaries of market studies.

FierceMarkets provides specialized feeds for different segments of the LS industry, including:

  • Biotech
  • Biotech IT
  • Biotech research
  • Biomarkers
  • Drug delivery
  • Medical devices
  • Pharma
  • Pharma manufacturing
  • Vaccines

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